If you’re in the market for a new laptop, or a secondary computer to take with you on the go, your two best budget options for an Apple laptop are the Macbook and the 11-inch Macbook Air. Both Apple laptops are priced at $999 and both have comparable specs. But there are a few differences that may help you decide which one to buy.
Power and Performance
The MacBook features a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, while the 11-inch Macbook Air comes with a 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor at the $999 price point. For an additional $100, you can upgrade the processor on the higher end Macbook Air (regular price: $1,199) to a 1.6 GHz Core 2 Duo, which is only slightly faster. For basic applications, such as web browsing and Word processing, you won’t notice much of a difference between the MacBook and the MacBook Air.
Both the MacBook and the MacBook Air come with 2 GB of RAM installed. However, with the MacBook Air, the RAM is soldered on to the board, which means you can’t upgrade it. You can pay an additional $100 to get 4 GB of RAM in your MacBook Air, which will vastly improve your multitasking speeds. But you will not be able to upgrade the RAM in your MacBook Air using third-party RAM, which is less expensive (about $70 on Newegg.com).
Lastly, both the MacBook and the MacBook Air have a built-in NVIDIA GeForce 320M video card with 256 MB of shared memory, meaning you shouldn’t see any difference in video playback or performance.
The MacBook has a 13.3 LED widescreen with a pixel resolution of 1280x800, while the MacBook Air has an 11.6-inch LED widescreen with a pixel resolution of 1366x768. As you can see, the Macbook Air screen is wider, but slightly shorter.
The MacBook has a 250 GB hard disk drive, while the MacBook Air has a 64 GB flash drive. Flash drives are solid state drives, which are considered more durable than HDDs. They also use less battery power. The tradeoff, however, is that solid state drives are much smaller in capacity for the dollar. You can connect an external USB drive to the MacBook Air if you need additional storage.
Ports and Drives
Both the MacBook and the MacBook Air have two USB ports. The MacBook features an optical drive that reads and writes CDs and DVDs, while the MacBook Air has no optical drive. If you want to watch DVDs on your MacBook Air, you’ll have to carry an external DVD drive.
The MacBook weighs 4.7 pounds and measures up at 13 x 9.23 x 1.08 inches, while the MacBook Air weighs just 2.3 pounds and measures up at 11.8 x 7.56 x 0.11 inches. However, much of that weight is shed due to the MacBook Air’s smaller battery, which only has 5 hours of life while the MacBook has 10 hours of battery life.
The main difference between the MacBook and the MacBook Air comes with the portability and the optical drive. Given the similarities in price, you should seriously consider whether shedding about 2 and a half pounds is worth sacrificing about 200 GB of disk space, an optical drive and about 2-inches of screen size, not to mention halving your battery life.